Originally published 9/1/2016
I'm sure you've never thought about it before, but having a small, family-run, retail store is like having a baby. I mean why would you have thought about it, but dear Lord it is. I've thought this the whole time I was planning, opening, and running our store. And expanding into a 2nd floor space proved once again that the analogy holds true. The 2nd floor is very much like a 2nd child.
When a store is created it starts with a seed of an idea being planted. The "aha!" moment when an idea comes together and the realization begins to set in that it's actually happening is both scary and exciting.
Then the next many, many months are spent growing the idea and planning for the future. Decorating decisions must be made; Pinterest will be visited. What colors should be used? What furniture and supplies do we need? Can we afford all of this?! The store also needs a name - nothing that will offend or people could make fun of. Should classes be taken to learn new skills and gain new insights? And in our case, we also needed to pick out all the best toys that will help grow young minds. Sleep is lost, and the tiredness of growing a store could never possibly be worse than it is at that point. These months are full of big decisions and lots of dreaming and planning.
Then the store opens! It's so exciting! Maybe the entry into the world was difficult and forced; scheduled so to speak. It was now or never. But it doesn't matter because it all worked out and it's here! People come to visit and check it out. Everyone is so congratulatory. They love the space - it is so beautiful and the name is great. As creators, you did so well. Happiness is everywhere but exhaustion is seriously starting to set in. As has panic. "Can we really do this? Do we know what the heck we are doing? What if this happens? What if that happens." The first month is just about surviving and getting through it.
Time moves on and the store becomes a more established entity. Each month brings new challenges, but a renewed sense of hope for the future. Life is starting to settle into a new routine. And sleep has even started to return. You know what you are doing. You got this.
And after a while the question comes - will you open another? Oh, boy. Another. Isn't one good enough? I mean, look how well it's doing all on its own! And it doesn't quite feel right. I mean, why force it? When the time is right it will just happen.
And suddenly life shifts and the time is right. It happens. A second space. In our case, a second floor. All the same things have to be done again, but the decisions are easier to make and seem less rushed and more confident. The dreaming and planning start all over again. It takes the same amount of time to get ready, but less attention is paid to only it (the first still demands a lot of attention), so time moves quicker.
After that second space opens there is once again congratulations and excitement, and exhaustion and long hours. Less muddling than the first time, but muddling nevertheless. Things are new but at the same time familiar. And though the first month is a bit rough, there is confidence that the difficulties won't last forever.
We aren't all that far past the first month of our second floor, so this is where my analogy ends. But if it keeps holding true we will find our new normal very soon and sleep will begin to return. And I'm sure, eventually, someone will ask about a third.